Kárákán is one of the nine
Krean military outposts located on
Moredein Palantith Zhunith, half a furlay north of the Great Kimb River (a.k.a.
“the Silver Serpent”). The people of Kárákán are known for their pragmatism,
courage and insistence. A severely disciplined people they might not appear
very hospitable at first sight; nevertheless, despite their obvious love for
warfare, they are not greatly aggressive either.
The city is celebrated for its bronze and marble sculptures, silver foundries and armouries as well as its unique residences and famous Séríán Battle Priests. The Great Market and especially the Armouries of the Scarlet Drake are sites worth seeing since they attract merchants from all over the continent.
Obviously due to their close relation with the Zhunite God of War, Sérás, dragons and drakes are frequent images used in Kárákán architecture. In addition, scarlet and gold are the symbolic colours of the city.
Description. Kárákán is one of the nine Krean military outposts on Moredein Palantith Zhunith. The settlement is located in the middle of a vast valley, protected by mountain ranges from the north and south. Fortified walls parallel to the housing blocks shield the east and west of the city. The walls reach all the way from the southern entrance, a mighty pass among the lofty hills, to the northernmost edges. Scholars agree that the valley must more or less resemble a rounded bowl from a bird’s eye-view. The Krean – being a dreadfully pacifist nation – have made many strategic mistakes in the outpost’s construction, which in turn, countered the fortress’s geographically secured position. Some of these are listed below.
A quarter furlay south of the southern gateway surges the great Kimb River. Rumor has it that a ship leaving Kárákán may reach the Zhunite city Kimbar in less than a week. Although the path does appear to be clear, no sailor has had the courage to face the great torrent and embark on the perilous journey. Conversely, it is virtually impossible for a ship traveling upstream from Kimbar to reach the outpost. The theory was affirmed when a small fleet of Pacifiers, gargantuan Anpagan galleys empowered by golems, was annihilated by the current during the Uprising of the Colonies. No leader has risked a naval assault to the fortress ever since.
The majestic gates of the southern entrance are open from daybreak to nightfall during times of peace. On either side of the gatehouse is a colossal statue of the city’s patron deity, Sérás, in full armour - and detail. The hand facing the pass carries the archetypal round Zhunite shield while the outer hand points a regal sword toward the heavens in an utterly defiant manner. Sérás is a very quick tempered god; it is said that “(his) blood boils in his veins”. Hence, most enemy leaders prefer to stay clear of his city. Familiar with Zhunite mythology or not, enemy troops find themselves intimidated by the great statues. Likewise, commanders planning to besiege Kárákán may have great difficulty gathering troops, as few Zhunite men will risk upsetting the god of war. Word has it that soldiers who have displeased the passionate deity fall victim to unforeseen blows in combat. On the other hand, the grand statue emanates an aura of security in the hearts of those who enter his city with fair intentions.
Each statue stands a good hundred and seventy nine peds high and covers a sixteen pen dais. The platform flanks the mountain ranges guarding the southern entrance. However, unlike the monuments of the dwarves, the statue is constructed from marble, steel and stone rather than carved into the mountains. The statues are surprisingly well coloured and meticulously crafted for their size. The details on the statues are clearly worked. An exemplar of classic Krean sculpture, the Statues of Sérás illustrate an exceedingly realistic portrayal of a fierce, young soldier. The body armour and helm covering his features hint at everything yet revealing nothing. Reddish black and bronze are the predominant colours of the sculptures. The round shield has stripes of red and black running to its center where an imposing head of a dragon with a sinister smile is raised in relief. The statues go under an intense restoration process supervised by the local artisans’ guild every three years.
Half a dash away from the statues is the famous pair of the Rivaling Towers high in the mountains. The location of these strongholds is the Krean’s first strategic mistake: Instead of building the massive towers right on the edge of the gate to protect the entrance, they were built on the outer side of the statues to maintain a sense of foreboding. It is true that the southern entrance looks very commanding even from the other side of the river running parallel to the gates. The current positioning, on the other hand, prevented the majesty of the statues dwarfing the dignity of the two towers. As can be anticipated, the keeps are an exact replica of each other to maintain symmetry.
The main features of the military outpost Kárákán can be described as follows:
The Southern Entrance
Instead of bridging two regular watch towers, the gates, when closed, appear like intertwining flames coming out of the Dragons’ jaws. "The Dragons" is the name given to the gigantic statues flanking the pass on either side. Although they do not show it, the Dragons serve as the watch towers guarding the gateway.
The structure of the Dragons is both an architectural wonder and a martial disaster. In times of peace the statues face south, challenging all with their unvoiced roar and haughty eyes. If the city is beset, however, the Dragons slowly rotate on their dais to face each other. At the same time, the Dragons bend towards the ground until their jaws are parallel to the pavement. The rising wings expose a great entry extending all across the lizard’s body. The barred gates also exit their alcoves in the mountains in unison to enter the opening. Finally, the lower jaws drop to let the flame-shaped gates out. It takes promptly three bells for the gates to close and only half a bell to open again, which makes them rather inefficient for combat.
Once the progression is complete, the statues look like two hunching Dragons breathing raging fire at each other. This is not entirely pretense as the priests do in fact heat the barred gate till it blazes with a deep, fiery red. The Temple of Sérás does not bother with it unless the city faces a grand siege, since the heating requires thirteen priests to maintain – and only for seven hours.
The gates can be closed from several places. These include the Captain Commander’s meeting hall in Keep Halberd, the Chambers of the Fang, the Rivaling Fortresses and the Watch-posts atop the Dragons. The last two have to be activated at the same time for the Firegem to work. Perhaps this explains why the gates were never closed from the Rivaling Fortresses in two millennia of history, even when they are second only to the Dragons in proximity. On the other hand, only the Fang, a coven formed by the six most powerful battle-priests of Sérás, can reopen the gatehouse.
A wide boulevard made from dark gray stone leads to the mines and the Great Market.
Each tower is approximately twenty four peds in height and cylindrical in shape. The Rivaling Towers are self-contained strongholds, with more than three suites for accommodation. To some extent, they are martial residences with all the components of an average castle. With halls, chambers, shrines, and kitchens compressed together into one compact unit, the result is an impressive pair of towers indeed. The keep captains’ principle suites are marked by extra ornamentation (even according to Krean standards!) and rise through two stories to give extra space and light.
Before a major earthquake reshaped much of the Kárákán landscape in 2806 b.S., the keeps were rectangular, with four smaller towers supporting the walls. Appraiser Déárán Sálíádor (later Krean High King in 2667 b.S. and Emperor in 2654 b.S,) wrote in his famous report, "A Zhunith Sunset – Tome 3: The Wilting Rose." about the reconstruction:
“The change from rectangular to cylindrical in 2807 b.S. was a symbol of progress, the round tower being stronger in order to withstand the battering of gorba rams and avoid blind angles for defenders [...]”
The Mines, Foundries and
The rocks of the southern mountain ranges yield the best bronze and iron ore found within six parries. There is a rectangular block, diagonal to the walkway coming from the southern entrance on either side of the main street. The lower width of the left block faces southeast. The opposite is true for the right block. The blocks are divided into three sections: Foundry, storage and sculpture zones.
A myriad of foundries cover the side nearest to the mountains whereas only several sculpture studios line up on the other end of the block (facing the rest of the city) It should be noted, however, that before the Déárán additions armouries stood in the studios’ place. Emperor Déárán, a powerful mage with an infamous temper, is said to have flown into a rage the moment he saw the city. Seven years of Zhunite military service had given him the vision Krean generals lacked. After a hasty inspection, Emperor Déárán spotted the unforgivable mistake his ancestors had made nearly five hundred years ago: As a production based people, they had found it only logical for the armouries to be placed close to the supply of raw materials. The one thing they had not realized, though, was that once the gatehouse fell, these would be the first buildings on the enemies’ path. Subsequently, placing the armories so close to the main entrance would not only mean handing a fine supply of weaponry in the hands of the enemy but also hinder the flow of military hardware to Kárákán’s troops.
"(By building the armouries in front of the gates) we not only offer our hands (to the enemy) to be cuffed and tied behind our backs but also provide the rope to perform the task […]”
-- Excerpt from the Journals of Emperor Déárán, published by Arál Werge, Head Librarian of the Imperial Archieves, in 1407 b.S.
The Great Market
The Great Market is barely smaller in size than one of Kárákán’s four residential blocks and has the shape of a right rhombus. The upper and lower vertexes are on the avenue coming from the Southern Entrance: On the southern vertex of the Great Market, the wide Southern Road splits into two smaller streets. After enclosing the rhombus shaped grand agora, the streets once again merge into one great path, known as the Market Avenue.
The first three rows facing the residential blocks host all sorts of martial weaponry and armour shops. The most prominent of these shops is “The Scarlet Drake”, pulling business from throughout Nybelmar with an armoury that spans over a nearly two and a half dashes-long building.
As well as displaying the works of local smiths, the Great Market serves as a place for weapon producers all over the western continent to present their work to prospective buyers from the Earth Empire. There are hundreds of storehouses and trade posts lined up around the enormous bazaar in the central square.
Most storehouses have secret compartments for ‘illegal’ military hardware, such as the notorious Síhítárán Glass Stars. In reality, “illegal” is not a correct term for these wares as the Empire (especially the Twin Kingdom) is very well aware of the smuggling (as all entries and sales are secretly documented). A good number of these products include weapons whose sales are banned to countries outside the Krath League. Poisoned weaponry, rings, needles and the like are also open to sale behind these closed doors. Surprisingly, very few know that the Empire pulls these strings to make countries rise or fall (as only the War Congress is notified of the status of illegal imports and exports). In fact, many Senators are not even aware of the presence of the Shady Market, as the less publicized section of the Great Market is known.
The Temple of Sérás is the master smuggler. Dryly, the cliché about the Empire bringing about its own fall is true: In the thirty-year Orcal Wars, it was the battle-priests of Sérás who supplied the orcs with poisonous Krean weaponry - all under the supervision of the Twin Kingdom. Ever since the Entrustment (see Krean history), the lands that were once the Twin Kingdom suffered severe economic failure due to the Empire’s Balance Policy. The wild tax and custom rates imposed on the Kingdom, caused many Krean businesses to lose their customers to merchants from other ally nations. For over two thousand years, the Krean had single-handedly dominated trade in the peninsula of Krath. However, with the League’s strict anti-monopoly policies, the market shares of the Krean were cut down to half.
Searching for a way out that would not result with another campaign against their Kingdom, Krean leaders were among the first to back the adversaries of the Empire. Krean archives reveal that the almost mythical “Black Hand”, which seemed to be behind every plot against the League was in reality a convention within the Krean High Council. During the day, Krean Senators would passionately urge the Krath Senate to take severe measures to cope with the rising Zhunite threat. The night was another matter on the other hand. On secluded hilltops, the Black Hand, with all of its members dressed in black leather masks and gloves, would meet with assassins from the Order of Ashalon to organize the uprisings. It was again a Krean delegation sent to negotiate with Orcal that secretly provided the maps of the underground tunnels leading to the Zhunite cities.
Losing a handful of colonies was a small price to see the fall of Zhunite states for the Krean. True, they would lose contact with Anis-Anpagan, but anything was worth re-establishing their trade tyranny in the southern jungles.
“As can be seen, the emergence of the Empire’s precious poisonous weapons during the Zhunite Uprisings is not entirely a profound mystery.”
Excerpt taken from Incomplete Deliberations
By Senator Khálíd of House Rhuníth, 1717-1637 b.S.
With the Déárán Additions, the armouries were re-located into two small rhombus blocks to the north east and north west of the Great Market. The replacements insured that the blacksmiths were neither too far away from raw materials to impede efficiency nor too close to the gates to be among the first buildings to be conquered. In truth, the various outposts, camps and training fields to the east and west of the marketplace were there as clandestine safety measures.
The Residential Squares
Four residential blocks, square in shape, border Market Avenue running all the way from the Great Market to the front gates of the Temple of Sérás. The great drive, identical in size and style to Market Avenue, dividing the Residential Squares into two parts along an East-West axis was named Scarlet Street after the town’s greatest benefactor, the armory of the Scarlet Drake.
The two great roads are lined on both ends by bronze warrior and cleric statues. The four ends of the avenues are marked by grand golden arches, each about seven peds tall and as wide as the great roads themselves. Intertwining branches with stylishly carved leaves spiral around the bodies of the two dragons forming the columns’ bases before blending with the neck of the majestic dragon head positioned above the arches. The columns have colonially curving side branches; the light of the setting sun reflected between the covers cast the Great Rune of the Dragon on the avenues.
The cross where the two main streets meet each other is marked with a great marble fountain covering over sixteen pens of land. On a hot summer day, the citizens of Kárákán will pass directly under the invigorating mountain water through the intricately carved gate at the fountain’s heart. A Krean myth dating back to the town’s foundation declares that should the Fountain of Seven Tears dry, Xharthas (Sérás’ favorite dragon, also the town’s protector) will die, taking Kárákán with it.
Each of the residential blocks shelter around six hundred Zhunith-Krean families. The apartments - if at all the grandiose residence citadels built around and between the colossal trunks of the Kárátghár trees could be called that – circumnavigate the Squares thrice. After the three rows of accommodation, at the center of each Shéréyjh Hjíthíar (“Gardens of the Setting Sun”) an enormous statue of the Warlord stands in full detail and colour. These statues of Sérás point their regal lances to the direction the Square they are located in diagonally expands taking the Fountain of Seven Tears as starting point (i.e. the statue in the Northwestern Square points northwest and so forth).
Each of the Residential Squares consists of approximately twenty residence citadels, which are actually groups of flats connected to one another in a grander architectural context. Each of these flats is a “sector” in which one registered soldier and his family lives. Hence, for easier defense and a more imposing appearance, there are no individual houses in Kárákán; citizens reside in sectors allocated to their family in a residence citadel. Beneath the residence citadels an interconnected web of underground silos stretches.
Another important feature to note is the absence of aristocracy in Kárákán. Sectors are allocated according to the rank of the highest ranking military officer of each family. The top three floors of the residence citadels are set aside for the commanders of each regiment.
The Temple of Sérás
The Temple of Sérás is a massive rectangular building where the famous warrior priests of Kárákán train, worship and reside – in that order. Within three dashes of the building’s corners a great golden sculpture of the Warlord is situated. Though none has witnessed it in the last three hundred years, these huge statues are alleged to spring into life should the city be under severe threat.
To the west and east of the Temple extensive training fields, fully equipped with the lasted arcane and military technology, for the Wardens of the Dragon (the formal title of the warrior priests) are located. To the north and south of these training fields are widespread lodgings for the military. A great waterfall surging down the mountain range is sited to the north of the Temple. The Temple’s water supply is brought from this waterfall via canals built by the Aestera when the city was founded in the 3000s b.S.
The Temple itself is a majestic building constructed from white marble and gold mined from the Zhunite Mountains. All across the building – especially above its myriad balconies – statues and busts and carvings of various kinds of dragons are placed. No one other than the six leaders of the Temple knows the location of the Chambers of the Fang. It is rumored among the priests however, that entrance to the Chambers is heavily guarded – presumably for the invaluable Firegem’s security.
The lowest ranking clerics are called “the Scales”, whereas “the Great Drake” is the title given to the residing head of the battle-priests of Sérás.
The servants of Sérás are renowned for their battle expertise and pyromancy. They practice approximately about seven hours every day (three early in the morning, two in the afternoon and two at night). The priests spend their remaining time “socializing” – i.e. discussing endless campaign and defense plans – and performing the three daily rituals their demanding God calls for.
Innumerable military encampments (including outposts, training grounds, guard towers, temporary lodgings) span around the Great Market. Training proceeds for thirteen hours everyday. Senior officers make sure that Kárákán’s strapping warriors present a formidable sight to the hordes of merchants passing by every week. In fact, the armed forces make a great effort to live up to the tales merchants spread across the lands of Kárákán’s military power.
Location. Kárákán lies on the northwestern edges of Moredein Palantith Zhunith, half a furlay north of the Great Kimb River. Though it has been regulated by the Empire for the last two centuries, Kárákán’s loyalty is still to its founding fathers (the Twin Kingdom) and its brother Zhunite cities.
People. Over the years
the inhabitants of Kárákán have become more Zhunite than
Krean. Being a highly disciplined
militaristic race, the people of Kárákán are neither as graceful nor as
hospitable as their Krean ancestors. Putting great value in the two merits that
stirred the Zhunite Warlord to degree of assuming their patronage, courage and
perseverance, Kárákán’s citizens spend the majority their time either preparing
for war or amassing for siege.
Crime is practically non-existent in Kárákán, since one out of every two able man is either a priest or a guard. Nonetheless, very few houses leave their doors unlocked at night – despite what the Krean custom demands.
Despite their close resemblance with the rest of the Zhunites, the Kárákán’ámár (“Those who dwell in Kárákán”, or shortly the “Citizens of Kárákán”) have abandoned the almost ritualized Anpagan love for eating. The Kárákán’ámár, unlike their visionary Aesteran ancestors, are a very matter-of-fact, down-to-earth people. That being said, it is no wonder that the leaders of Kárákán delight only in dreaming what can be achieved. Likewise, eating for the pragmatic Kárákán’ámár serves two purposes: To replenish the physical strength and to symbolically convey messages over the many courses of a formal dinner.
Another significant characteristic of the Kárákán’ámár is their almost zealous stubbornness; despite their practicality, once they decide upon a project (and they would never start on a mission they regard unachievable – perhaps as a result of their suffering for the Search of the Silver Serpent) it is virtually impossible to stop them from realizing their vision.
Perhaps most importantly it should be mentioned that the Kárákán’ámár consider themselves neither characteristically Krean nor Zhunite; the people of Kárákán are merely who and what they are. Otherwise they are rather proud of their Krean heritage. Therefore, although any Kárákán’ámár will speak the High Goddesses’ names with utmost reverence, witnesses one worshipping either deity would indeed be a very rare sight.
Furthermore, there are no social classes in Kárákán in the classical sense of the term. Social status and reputation is systematized according to one’s mastery of the martial arts (battle magic is also considered one of the martial arts in Kárákán) and one’s position in the army.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Kárákán standard emblem is a scarlet dragon’s head on golden background. The number of stripes on the soldiers’ round shields connotes their rank. Colourations might vary however from regiment to regiment; archers for instance are dressed entirely in silver-white chain mail whereas blade bearers wear golden armour. Likewise, the dragon shape on an archer’s chest is black while it is scarlet on a footman’s.
Soldiers wear helmets that are shaped either like a ram or goat horn according to the individual’s status. Dragon wing shaped helmets can only be worn by senior officers.
Climate. Like the rest of Zhun, Kárákán has a warm climate. The summer, being the dry season, yields many dry hot days. Every so often the heat of the plains will be cooled by seasonal breezes known as ‘meltemíá’, especially in the north and coastal areas. Thus, the citizens of Kárákán regularly enjoy pleasantly cool evenings.
Winters are very mild in coastal areas, but in Kárákán they can be much colder. Nevertheless, snowfall – even in the mountainous region the town is located in – is not frequent.
Winter is the wettest season whereas rain between the months of the Rising Sun and the Sleeping Dreameress is highly unlikely. The distinctive rainy season, however, is from the month of the Dead Tree to the month of the Awakening Earth.
An outstanding feature of Zhunite weather is its ample sunshine – especially during the summer, estimated to be around three thousand hours per year.
Travelers would be wise to bring lightweight clothes during the summer months, including various protective measures (such as the handy sun cream, a paste made from the seeds of various forest plants including the sweet scented vanilla beans) developed by the Krean. A light coat may be needed for evenings. Rainproof clothes and heavy cloaks are advised for autumn. Moreover, winter months can be quite cold, especially in the northern mountains, so normal winter wear will be required.
Flora. The outskirts of the city, especially near the mountains, are covered in thick plots of sanhrix pines and black oaks, with a heavy redberry bush undergrowth especially in the north. Roses, daisies, honeysuckles, jasmines and mimosas are among the area’s natural flowering flora and are extensively used in garden arrangements. Wheat is the only kind of grain cultivated in Kárákán.
Fauna. Although wildlife flourishes in the forests surrounding the city, boars, elver elks or even moss bears are an extremely rare sight within Kárákán’s borders. Interestingly, eagles, sparrows and beautifully coloured mockingbirds seem to have replaced the cat and dog population as domestic animals. White and purple spiral butterflies, the golden seeán beetle, as well as an overabundance of myrmex form the bulk of the area’s insect population.
Resources. The majority of Kárákán’s soil is made up of silty, sandy soil. Limestone is a characteristic type of soil found in this country. It should be noted however, that the soil around the town is not very fertile; only about a third of the total land area can support crops. Most farms are small as northern Zhun is a very mountainous region without any major valleys. Hence, wheat is the town’s main crop. Supplementary crops include: corn and other grains, cotton, figs, olives, oranges, peaches, tubberroots, sugar beets, tobacco and tomatoes. Although Zhun is Nybelmar’s leading producer of olive oil and raisins, these industries have not developed in Kárákán.
Before the Breaking, Zhun was a land of thickly forested mountains. Farmers were limited in the amount of crops they could grow other than a bit of barley and wheat, a few grape vines, fig trees and olive trees. By 2000s b.S., however, much of the forest was cut down for shipbuilding and the creation of coal for the metal-workings. Although at first, this appeared as a blessing to the farmers as they could have more farming land, it turned out to be disastrous, as the winter rain washed away the fertile soil along the mountainsides. This resulted in the land becoming even more infertile, especially around the 1950s. The appraiser Déáran, being the first man to realize the land’s woes, tried to solve the problem by asking his fellow citizens to plant olive trees. The olive trees were meant to hold the fertile soil, however this did not happen as their roots spread into the deeper soil for moisture, leaving the surface bare to be washed away. The situation was so dire that in Kárákán, the statesmen decided to import grains from Anpagan to feed its population. The measures taken against the deforestation of the 2000s b.S. probably explains why Zhun has so many olive trees today. Over the centuries, these trees have become conditioned to the limited amount of moisture and grow with minimal watering.
Kárákán, like most of northern Zhun, is very rich in mineral deposits; namely marble, clay, nickel, coal, ore, and chromate.
Trade/Production. Local trade between countryside and urban center continues largely as it had in the early periods of Krean supremacy. But rather than producers transporting and selling their surplus goods directly in city markets, specialized retailers who profited as middlemen between producers and consumers came into existence around the 1900s b.S. as suggested by Senator Déáran in his famous report, "A Zhunith Sunset. - Tome 5: The Rising Sun".
Trade (especially long distance transportation) was and still is carried out by private individuals, and is not organized by the state. Besides the main wheat import, many of the goods traded throughout the town’s history were luxury goods, manufactured items, such as jewelry and finely painted vases. Specialty agricultural products like fine wine and honey have also been among Kárákán’s favorite imports.
Minerals (e.g. limestone, salt, scarlet quartz crystals), ores (chiefly: iron, marble), weaponry (especially spears, halberds) and armour (particularly metal breastplates) in addition to the town’s famous bronze and marble sculptures form the backbone of Kárákán’s exports. After the deforestation of 2000s b.S., members of Zhunite Council (led by the Krean Senator Déáran in this particular area) developed law prohibiting the export of timber from Kárákán.
It should be observed though, that long distance trade over land was extremely difficult and time consuming, given the mountainous topography of northern Zhun. On the other hand, the Great Kimb River and the extensive system of paved roads built by the Krathrian Empire to tie the fragmented Zhunite city-states together greatly enhanced the situation.
Mythology. Around the 3500s b.S., the Twin Kingdom, following the recent prophecy of the famous Stone Caster Xhin’áktár, decided to expand their civilization into the mysterious plains of the east. The High Council of Grand Empire of Krath in the spring of the same year organized a massive expedition, the greatest as of then, to explore and - whenever possible - cultivate the feral hinterlands of Zhun. Finding - in spite of the prophecy - nothing more than fragmented communities of farmers, fishermen and nomads upon their arrival, the majority of the Krathrian search parties returned home thwarted. The Krean, being a much more patient than their Krathrian allies, marked their priestess’ words - especially the part that foretold the downfall of the League (which, rather unsurprisingly was not known to the rest of the Empire) – and carried on. It was not until they reached a small fishing community three weeks after their departure that they witnessed the first of the marvels forecasted: An endless blue expanse of ever curling land. The Krean explorers named their first settlement after their first encounter with Great Sea of Zyloth: Cusca (which translates in the Common Tongue as “Hills of Salt” or shortly “Salt Hill”).
Upon the seventy sixth day of their arrival in Cusca, Priestess Xhin had her next vision: “Seek the silver serpent through the seaside and pursue it to the stones of the Spirit”. Thus, two parties were assembled to find this mystical Silver Serpent. The parties departed on the 13th of the Month of the Changing Winds (known as the "Month of the Serpent’s Song" in the Empire of Krath) for what would later be called the "Search for the Silver Serpent".
The party that followed the coastline claimed to have found the “Silver Serpent” after two months: They had come to a valley just north of Krath’s northeasternmost forest where a stately river met the ocean. After following the river west, however, the party came to a fork: There the river split into two great arms.
The group that followed the branch that trailed back southwest to their homeland discovered loaded deposits of pure silver ore at place they named Kárát Sílhádhor (“Fangs of the Earth” in the High Speech), a great ragged range of mountains. They sent messengers to the allied lands to declare that their search for the Silver Serpent had ended. On the high mountain passes of Kárát Sílhádhor they built a colossal city consisting of seventeen citadels merged together via vast underground passages and great bridges. They named their imposing settlement after what guided them to the land’s treasure, Kátrá ílár Chághruh, “the Mountain’s Call”.
The troops that tracked the meandering torrent tailing to the northeast came across another mountain pass sited right in between two mountains of similar size and shape. They named these the "Twin Peaks", and the city they built perched there on the pass "Twofold" to remind them of their homeland, the Twin Kingdom. In no later than three months further expeditions from the city realized that their new city was located on a straight line diagonally northeast of Cusca. The men and women of Twofold spent the next thirty years methodically constructing highways leading from their city to Cusca, Kátrá ílár Chághruh, the Kingdom of Orcal and other established settlements around Zhun. Many scholars agree that Cusca remained the preeminent trade center of the century solely because of the raw and finished goods these ways brought from all over the southwestern continent. Only two centuries later would these routes be entitled the "Great Roads" by the Emperor of the time and patrolled every hour of the week by imperial pike men. As they were the first people to come in contact with the Kingdom of Orcal (which is built around an enormous serpentine river closely resembling a snake) and establish a Zhunite trade network (which gives the rough impression of a luminous serpent from the Twin Peaks), Twofolders claim to be the rightful offspring of the Search for Silver Serpent; thus identifying themselves as Ríhght Mát’hár (“The True Inheritors”). For centuries the men and women of Twofold were known as great traders and adventurers.
The second half of the main expedition that left Cusca in search of the Silver Serpent had the worst luck of all. On their journey north, they were caught up in a war of the two largest nomadic tribes of the Zhunite plains. But their ill-fate would not end here, as upon encountering trespassers the two tribes had allied to obliterate the Krean party. At the time in Cusca, after receiving no news from the Northern Pursuit the statesmen had arranged a funeral rite for “the great heroes that breathed their last breaths in search of a noble dream”. Ironically these remarks were not wholly off the mark, as a great number of the exploration had died escaping the war either from disease or exhaustion. The remaining few, however, reached the grandest city they had seen so far on Zhun after two year’s exodus. The locals had named the place “Kimbar” after the immense river that ran to the east of the city. “Kimb”, as this river was called, stood for the greatest and deadliest serpent found in the forests of Zhun. Interestingly enough, over the years the Krean have assimilated this word into the Common Tongue as “cobra”. [Author’s note: The fact that the entire plain of Zhun was covered with large patches of forests should be kept in mind when accounting for the perils of this expedition.]
The citizens of Kimbar were a very hospitable, polytheistic people. The rulers of the city saw to the needs of the search party and treated them as children of their own. After three weeks’ treatment, the Northern Pursuit was convinced that this river – which even the locals had named after their greatest snake – from whose rushing waters the sun’s rays reflected like silver arrows was indeed the Silver Serpent they had so desperately been seeking.
On the day of their departure the expedition was greeted by a celestially handsome young warrior that promised to guide them to the Promised Land if they would agree to build a fortress there in his name. The Oracle of Kimbar advised the Northern Pursuit that this man was the Dragon Lord Sérás, the fierce Zhunite God of War to whom they would be wise to relate well. The majority of the survivors was thrilled at this news, for the touch of this mysterious warrior – whether he be a god or not – stirred a great fervor in their hearts, a passion to strive, a bloodlust they had never felt before… One of the soldiers even described it as “a divine torch lit inside our veins”. All the same a group of priestesses, who also served as the leaders of the expedition, were not at all pleased at the arrival of this false deity. They had confronted the people claiming that should the Northern Pursuit follow this fallacious god, the High Goddesses would curse them for eternity. The young warrior that called himself Sérás only laughed at the mention of the High Goddess Ankriss, claiming to be Her second youngest son. Promising to prove his assertions once the party reached in the prophesied land, the Warlord, Sérás, settled the issue.
Thus, every morning at exactly six minutes past the seventh bell, Sérás would appear clad in full armour on a hill top, radiating like the sun itself to lead his followers up the Silver Serpent for thirteen hours straight. This is in fact why the official work and training hours in Kárákán is still thirteen bells.
On the thirteenth afternoon of sailing up the Silver Serpent, the Dragon Lord ordered his followers to build a great bonfire dedicated to their former deities, the Two High Goddesses, from the woods of their boats. Sérás averred that he could not become the patron deity of the Northern Pursuit or lead them to the Prophesied City unless they would end all their bonds with the past. The leading priestesses, of course, maintained that no Krean would bring their former rites to a halt unless he who claimed to be the Son of Ankriss performed a miracle connoting the consent of the two Goddesses. Hence, the Dragon Lord Sérás at dawn appeared with the High Goddesses on his side and taught the Krean the Prayer of Saviour. For thirteen days the three deities would appear side by side to guide the Northern Pursuit from the riverbed to the birth place of the Silver Serpent. There, at the source of the Great Kimb, the Warlord Sérás ordered his people to build a great fortress in tribute of their rescuer. Yet the priestesses would not yield; they called for the approval of their former deities before taking orders from the Dragon Lord. Crying to the heavens in anguish and melancholy Sérás summoned his mothers to “insert some sense into your priestesses’ brains!” Upon seeing the devastation of their second youngest son and the devout fidelity of their former clerics, the High Goddesses decided to expound their approval of Sérás patronage and reward the Kreans loyalty.
Lady Ankriss, the High Goddess of Earth, gestured and the treasures hidden deep below the lands rose to the surface. Even today the mines of Kárákán effortlessly yield the finest ores of the entire continent in profusion. Then the High Goddess Arléá, Patron of the Flowing Water, sang and the Great Kimb River roared and changed its course the other way around, so the armies of the Dragon Lord would always sail swiftly to triumph but no enemy of Kárákán would ever reach the city. Consequently, it is no wonder the Silver Serpent flows more rigorously than any river in western Nybelmar since then.
It is also alleged that Sérás chose – or would ever appoint – any women as his cleric after what the priestesses of the Northern Pursuit made him suffer through. Whether this is a mere local tall story or the scandalous truth itself, no one knows.
Hence, it is no wonder that the Search for the Silver Serpent ended in the lair of the greatest serpent to ever walk the face of Nybelmar, the Dragon Lord of the Zhunite plains himself…
Myth/Lore. There are basically two common tales told in Kárákán, the one about the Fall of the Fountian and the other on the Dragon Guards:
The Fall of the Fountain. The warriors of Kárákán will pass through the Fountain of Seven Tears before great wars. During this ritual, some soldiers are said to see the Dragon Lord in his true form. Those who receive the Dragon Lord’s blessing in the Golden Grove, where the spirits of great warriors rest, fight with a renewed vigor. - According to an ancient Krean myth, should the Fountain of Seven Tears be destroyed, Xharthas, the town’s protector dragon, - and with it, Kárákán – will fall.
Dragon Guards. It is rumored that all the golden and marble dragon statues (some also list various statues of the Dragon Lord) will spring into life should the city be on the verge of falling into the hands of the enemy.
Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr